Published on 14 November 2018

On World Diabetes Day the International Diabetes Federation is urging families to educate themselves on what to look out for in their children’s health.

Parents are being encouraged to learn more about the warning signs of type 1 diabetes on World Diabetes Day.

A new report has highlighted that nine out of ten parents would not recognise the warning signs of type 1 diabetes

The warning signs can include: excessive thirst, frequent urination, a lack of energy, blurred vision, slow healing wounds, and numbness in the feet and/or hands. 

A report published by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to coincide with diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day on 14thNovember found that parents in the UK would struggle to spot this serious life-long disease in their own children. 

While 70% of people surveyed said they had a family member with diabetes the study also found that 87% of parents would have trouble recognising the warning signs. One-in-four (25%) of parents added that they would not recognise the signs of type 1 diabetes at all.

The report authors said the findings showed the need for education and awareness to help people spot type 1 diabetes warning signs early.

A lack of knowledge about type 1 diabetes means that spotting the warning signs is not just a problem for parents, but is an issue impacting a cross-section of society. 

Child with a doctor.

The study of people from all over the world found that four out of five (20%) adults could not correctly identify the warning signs of type 1 or type 2 diabetes

Not recognising the signs of type 2 diabetes was also a concern to study authors as it is the most prevalent form of the condition, responsible for around 90% of all diabetes cases. 

Julieta Laudani, a mother from Argentina, only discovered her daughter Fran had type 1 diabetes at 18 months old when she went through eight nappies in quick succession. 

At first Julieta did not think babies could have the condition and medical staff mistakenly thought Fran had a urinary infection at first. 

Julieta said: “Fran was conscious, she wasn't even dehydrated or anything. We actually had no idea that diabetes could be present in little kids at all. We knew adults could get it, old people for example, but their circumstances were not like ours. There's not much knowledge. It would be great to change that.” 

Professor Nam H. Cho, IDF President, said: “It is vital everyone learns to identify the warning signs of diabetes. Sadly, diabetes can be easily missed or mistaken for a different condition and this leaves people – whether children or adults – vulnerable to serious consequences.

“Diabetes can become a life-threatening disease. It has devastating complications if not treated early and managed appropriately. The rise in diabetes – particularly type 2, which is largely preventable – could in many cases be halted if people knew the warning signs and risk factors so they could adopt a healthier lifestyle or, if necessary, seek treatment. For many, particularly in developing countries, type 1 diabetes is still a death sentence. Many with type 2 diabetes are diagnosed too late when complications are already present. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.” 

Find out more about World Diabetes Day
Test your diabetes knowledge on the International Diabetes Federation online quiz
Read the DRWF leaflet What is diabetes?
Find out more about type 1 diabetes
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